Sweetwaters Coffee and Tea may have just opened in downtown Milford, but you wouldn’t know it by walking in.
Inside the clean cafe is a full glass display case with goodies galore. Artwork from area high school students adorn the walls of the seating area. If not for the red balloons outside, you’d think the coffee shop had been open for weeks.
And making the shop at 525 N. Main St., a cozy place for the community to gather is just what franchise owner Rico Abro is aiming for.
“I’m very ecstatic,” the Farmington Hills resident said. “I loved learning all about it and I’m ready for my next one.”
The coffee shop opened Sunday after several months of renovations to the space in the Mill Valley shopping center. Even though the coffee shop took over for another coffee shop — Starbucks moved out of that space in May and into a new location with a drive-through on Milford Road on the south side of the village — Abro still had plenty of work to do in the storefront, which delayed his opening until December.
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The addition of Sweetwaters is the first for southwest Oakland County. The Ann Arbor-based coffee company recently began franchising locations, Abro said, and currently has more than two dozen cafes across eight states. Locally, Sweetwaters operates in Canton, Ann Arbor and Troy, to name a few.
He originally wanted to open his cafe in a larger community, such as Detroit, but realized he wanted something more closely connected to the local community. After asking around with other business owners, he began to investigate Milford and decided it was the perfect spot.
“It took me a while to find a good location that I really had my heart set on,” he said. “Sweetwaters is about community engagement, and I wanted to find a really tight-knit community. And that’s when I started asking fellow business owners.
“I kept hearing Milford a lot.”
Abro has had a presence in the village for several months, handing out coffee at events such as Milford Memories and the annual Christmas parade downtown. That engagement, he said, was important to joining the fabric of the community.
Inside the cafe, customers can expect to find new furniture, including a communal table that can be rented out for free for those hosting meetings. When the weather warms up, Arbo hopes to have outdoor seating both along Main Street and smaller seating on the back patio.
The menu is also the same as it is at other Sweetwaters locations, with a variety of coffee, tea and espresso drinks. Visitors can enjoy a pastry or a slice of cake with their drink, and even have a light lunch with a sandwich or salad.
Abro also plans on catering the Sweetwaters goodies across the Milford area.
“I plan on doing catering within a 10-mile radius,” he said. “I’ll personally deliver it.”
He partnered with the Michigan Humane Society for his soft opening, donating proceeds to support programs ran by the Westland-based organization out in Livingston County. He hopes to integrate into the community in other ways, including his current staging of artwork done by Milford High School students that adorn the cafe’s walls.
Those pieces of art are up for sale, and those interested in purchasing a piece can inquire at the cafe.
“I really wanted to find exposure for the kids that do art at Milford High School,” he said. “I know they have a great art department there.”
The artwork is expected to rotate each month.
It’s not just high school students whose work will be featured. Dayna Rupert, a Milford resident who works at Sweetwaters and student at Oakland Community College, has done some of the chalk artwork on the sandwich board outside the coffee shop.
She said she really enjoys the matcha tea latte on the menu, but was wanting something new when looking for a new place to work.
“I really like coffee and that drew me here,” she said. “It’s got a great atmosphere and I was looking forward to something new.”
Sweetwaters is open 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday and 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday.
Contact reporter David Veselenak at [email protected] or 734-678-6728. Follow him on Twitter @davidveselenak.